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Important Immigration News and Updates 

 

 

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Travel and Re-Entry to the U.S. on H-1B or H-4 Visas

Warning: Current U.S. regulations require new security clearance checks on certain foreign nationals applying for non-immigrant visas to the U.S. These checks may be random, or they may be triggered by criteria such as country of birth or citizenship, or field of study or research. If you are from Cuba, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria or Libya, or your field of study is listed on the Technology Alert List (found online at: http://foia.state.gov/masterdocs/09fam/0940031X1.pdf), it is likely that you will be subject to an extended security check. These checks can delay the visa application process by as much as two to three months. Please plan accordingly if you need to travel outside the U.S., and/or if you need to apply for a new visa.

If you travel out of the U.S. while you are in H status, you should have the following documents in order to be re-admitted to the U.S.

  • Passport valid 6 months into the future
  • Letter from department Chair or Dean confirming current employment in same position described in his / her H petition
  • Recent check-stubs proving current employment at employer sponsor
  • Copy of complete H-1B petition filed with the CIS
  • Valid Form I-797 H Approval Notice (Request the top portion of this form from the Office of Visa and Immigration Services. Please return this to the Office of Visa and Immigration Services upon your return.
  • If appropriate, original J-1 home residency I-612 Waiver Approval Notice (only applies to former J-1 holders who were subject to the two year home residency requirement)
  • Valid H visa for re-entry to U.S.

If your H-1B visa stamp has expired, you will need to apply for a new H-1B visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad the next time you travel outside the United States.  You must have a valid visa stamp in order to return to the United States. 

WARNING: Whenever you apply to the U.S. consulate for a new entry visa stamp, you always run the risk that your application may be denied. It is not recommended that you apply for a visa stamp at a U.S. consulate in a country of which you are not a citizen. If you are denied in a "third country", you will be required to travel home from that country to apply for the visa. You will not be allowed to come back to the U.S. first, even if you have applied in Canada.

Documents for Visa Application

Non-immigrant H-1B visa applicants are normally required to submit the following documentation to the U.S. consulate abroad:

  • Valid passport
  • Current passport-size photographs
  • Valid Form I-797 H Approval Notice (Request the top portion of this form from the Office of Visa and Immigration Services. You must return this to the Office of Visa and Immigration Services upon your return to the U.S.)
  • Copy of complete H-1B petition filed with the CIS
  • If appropriate, original J-1 home residency I-612 Waiver Approval Notice (only applies to former J-1 holders who were subject to the two year home residency rule)
  • Non-immigrant visa application forms, available from the U.S. consulate abroad, or online at: http://evisaforms.state.gov/DS156_English.pdf , and http://foia.state.gov/FORMS/visa/ds0158.pdf In addition, if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 45, you will also need to complete and submit the DS-157 form, available at the U.S. consulate or online: http://foia.state.gov/FORMS/visa/ds0157.pdf

Automatic Revalidation: Travel to Contiguous Territory & Adjacent Islands

Automatic Revalidation: Travel to Contiguous Territory & Adjacent Islands

H-1B / H-4 status individuals

After initial entry to the U.S., persons in H-1B status who have an expired non-immigrant visa in their passport may re-enter the U.S. without obtaining a new U.S. visa if their travel was solely to a contiguous territory (Canada or Mexico) and their travel is for a period not exceeding 30 days. This procedure is known as "automatic revalidation" of the U.S. visa. The visa is automatically presumed to be valid for entry to the U.S. on the date the non-immigrant presents him- or herself at the U.S. border.

To take advantage of automatic re-validation of an expired H-1B visa after travel to a contiguous territory, travelers must have, in addition to their passport and I-797 H-1B or H-4 approval notice, a valid Form I-94 card or passport Admission stamp showing H-1B or H-4 status.  If you entered the U.S. by air or sea, OVIS recommends carrying a copy of your electronic Form I-94, which can be accessed and printed here.  It is also recommended to carry with you proof of your employment, such as a letter from your employer, or paycheck stubs.

Note that the following persons are *ineligible* for Automatic Revalidation:

  1. People who have applied for a new visa while in Canada or the adjacent islands, and the visa application is pending a decision or has been denied a new visa application.
  2. Nationals of Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Cuba are not eligible for automatic revalidation of an expired visa. Thus, for example, if a citizen of Iran travels to contiguous territory for a day and has an expired visa, but a valid extension approval notice of status; he will need to obtain a visa to return to the U.S.
  3. Automatic revalidation does not apply to the Visa Waiver Program.

If you are planning to take advantage of it please see the copy of the regulation that allows this, here (22 CFR C. 1, part 41.112(d)).

Important Notes

  • If you are a citizen of Cuba, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria or Libya you are not eligible for automatic revalidation of your expired non-immigrant visa.
  • If you have applied for and been denied a new visa while out of the country, you may not re-enter the U.S., even if your current visa is still current.
  • You may be required to have a visa from either Canada or Mexico to enter those countries. The visa you have for the United States does not automatically grant entry into these countries.

Canadian Consulate in New York

Mexican Consulate in New York

Last Updated: 4/22/14